The Martial Arts Industry Association exists to help grow martial arts participation by helping school owners succeed. Many school owners are never exposed to the foundational business concepts necessary to run and grow a successful business. At MAIA, we can help fill that need, as we are made up of school owners who have walked in your shoes, know your struggles, and can help with strategies to elevate you from novice to a "blackbelt in business".
By Dwight Trower
I’ve been training as a martial artist for 38 years. The last 28 of those I’ve also been a school owner. Over that time, I have had the opportunity to visit and network with countless other martial arts professionals. As an industry, we’re all aware that many of our students have learning disabilities or physical limitations, and that we have to be able to adapt our programs to allow them to benefit, while maintaining the integrity of the martial arts and our chosen way of teaching.
One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that every student is unique. Each and every one of them has their own needs and goals. I’ve seen many schools, just like my own, train and develop elite martial athletes, successful adult students, children with learning disabilities, and those with special needs all within the same program.
October is Down syndrome Awareness Month, so this is a great time for me to get to share how...
By Dwight Trower
October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month! To shine the spotlight on the amazing members of our martial arts community with Down syndrome, and those who know them training partners, students, family and friends, MAIA is proud to feature this guest article by Dwight Trower, Director of Instruction at St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy.
In my many years as a martial artist and school owner, I have had the fortune of being able to instruct many students with Down Syndrome, as well as others on the autism spectrum and with various mental and physical disabilities. Given the inclusive nature of martial arts (no one sits on the bench!) I know that many of my fellow school owners have also had this experience. However, in 2010, thanks to Deidre Pujols and the Pujols Family Foundation, I was given the opportunity to do even more.
With help from the Foundation, I was able to create a stand-alone program and...
by Kurt Klingenmeyer, MAIA Consultant
Over the past year, I’ve had the incredible experience of working with many growing martial arts schools via MAIA’s Small School Forum. It’s a dedicated Facebook group for school owners with 80 or fewer students. The forum provides tools and advice to help them develop their schools.
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “How do I grow my martial arts school with only a small budget?” The following are five proven ways to do that.
This is an old-school form of marketing, but it always delivers results. Visit 10 local businesses that are community owned and tell the owners that you have students and families who may be interested in them. Ask if they have any business materials you could place at the front desk in your dojo.
If they have materials to share, ask if they can reciprocate by allowing you to leave a lead box on their counter. On the outside of the box, feature an enticing...
by Chris Rappold
It is always exciting to enroll new students. In most cases, it’s a fresh start with no history, only the promise of a bright martial arts future. The students enter your school and take their first class, receive their first promotions and win their first trophies. Everything is new and exciting.
Through continued hard work — both yours and the students’ — they continue to advance. At first, you may have just one advanced student, but in what seems like no time, you have a class full of brown and black belts. It’s a dream come true.
Then, without warning, one of those advanced students, perhaps even one you had mentally tagged as an assistant instructor, discontinues training. You feel like you got punched in the stomach. Why would the person suddenly stop training? Isn’t this what he or she always wanted? Why would the student come so far, only to quit? These questions and others race through your mind.
by Kathy Olevsky
I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.
Over the years, I have realized the importance of balancing the addition of new things with the maintenance of tradition and integrity. In my school’s karate program, we adhere to the same high standards as we always have. The black belt of today is the same as the black belt of many years ago. However, many of our students also partake in our yoga-stretch class, our cardio-fitness class, and our judo and jujitsu classes.
In this industry, it’s essential...
By Christopher Rappold
Finding out that a student is going to be leaving your school is never fun. If you care about making an impact on someone’s life and sincerely enjoy teaching, news of a departure can create some sleepless nights. While there is no magic answer to ensure this never happens, your time will always be well-spent ensuring that the highest percentage of your students remain dedicated to their training at your facility.
As I look back over 25 years of teaching, I do so with pride in what our team has produced. But, like you, I’ve been stung with the unexpected news of a student discontinuing his or her training more than once. Since we preach, “You can either get bitter or get better,” I offer the following preventative measures designed to keep such surprises to a minimum.
1. Know Your Students Beyond the Mat
It’s easy to forget that our students have lives outside the few hours they spend training with us each week. They...
By MAIA Executive Director Frank Silverman
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for martial arts schools, that is. We’ve hit the trifecta: the end of the hot days of summer, the start of back-to-school time and the edge of the holiday season. Any one of these three warrants an individual column, or even a full- fledged article, but I have only 700 words. Since that’s the case, I will attempt to wrap everything into one column. I want to cover the essential details of the question, How do we handle the transition from summer’s end through back-to-school and into the holidays?
First, regardless of how good or bad summer was, we need to focus on getting everyone who took a break, no matter how long or short, back to regular class attendance. We know it’s always less expensive to keep a client than to find a new one, so hop on the phone, send emails and post to Facebook. You need to do whatever it takes to get your students back on...
How Two Instructors Guide Their Students to Black Belt — and Then Retain Them as Contributing Members of the Dojo!
Rob and Kathy Olevsky (author of MASuccess’ “You Messed Up! Now What?” column) took over a struggling school in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1979. Forty years later, they not only have a thriving business but dozens of black belts who are happy to pay full tuition. Learn what they did right — and a few things they did wrong — along the way!
By Keith Yates
It was the late 1970s, and Kathy Kilmartin was a 21-year-old taking karate lessons at the only martial arts school in Raleigh, North Carolina. She caught the eye of one of the instructors, a man named Rob Olevsky, but the dojo had a strict policy against teachers dating students. However, after repeated requests, the school’s owner says Rob could ask her out on a date — but only if Rob bought out Kathy’s contract in case she quit.
By Christopher Rappold
What is it that separates a good competitor from a great competitor? I have asked that question many times, and I have heard many answers. To be great, someone must be fast. Or must be strong. Or must have a long reach. Or must have superior strategy. The list of answers goes on.
While all these are valid, I believe that the biggest deciding factor between good and great is whether a person can control distance.
This answer is what I would call “the elusive obvious.” It is self-evident, but sometimes we are so close to it that we don’t appreciate its value. If distance is controlled, then offense, defense, blocks, punches and kicks all work. If distance is off, they all are rendered useless.
If distance is such a critical element of success in martial arts, why is it that most schools place a premium on punching and kicking and only teach distance as a necessary evil? As I reflected on the answer and spoke with others, two answers...
Motivate Your Masses: Part 2
In my last column, Motivate Your Masses: Part 1, I went over some ways that you can inspire your “masses:” your students, their parents and your staff. However, much as you won’t have the energy to work out if you haven’t eaten, you won’t have the mental energy to motivate others if you’re not keeping up with your own welfare.
Part of being a great motivator is promoting a balanced lifestyle to those you care about. Home life, work commitments, online distractions and hobbies can pull you in a million directions. Internally, things can quickly become unbalanced, causing stress and unease.
Many will come to you for answers about how to create a successful, balanced life. Your words hold weight because of your position, so hand out wisdom with care. The answers you provide will be implemented, and those outcomes are a direct reflection of your ability to lead effectively. Realize that some will...
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